With the first full week of spring practice drawing to a close, the Nittany Lions are working out the offensive kinks and getting ready to scrimmage. Catch up on the news and notes from practice and how the offense is looking so far.
Wednesday the Penn State
players continued their contact drills in pads, which began on Monday of this week. The offense has "gotten a lot of good work with the defense, particularly with picking up a fast, hard pass rush," according to one observer.
Here are some notes about the offense:
Anthony Morelli has been "sharp on his progression," and has been "hitting a variety of targets." As one observer said, "He's doing a better job of spreading the ball around and not telegraphing passes as much as in the past." The consensus among those we have spoken with is that he has taken greater control of the huddle. "He's a senior, this is it and he seems to know it," one observer explained. He has been working on "roll outs, check-downs and intermediate routes." As another onbserver said, "He's in his element airing it out, but he has come a long way in this dink-dunk type passes — he's getting more comfortable with it, which should go a long way to open up his game."
The backup to Morelli is Daryll Clark currently, although Pat Devlin's abilities have been "lights out" at times. "Where Daryll has all-around power, Pat has control. He places the ball well and makes life easy on the receiver most times." Clark is working on consistently running through his progression and reading breakdowns better whereas Devlin is working on his rollouts and using his running backs and tight ends more. He has a "strong dropback and good mechanics. His footwork in the pocket is a focal point he is improving."
The most "all-around consistent" receiver has been Deon Butler. "He is fearless — always sacrifices himself — he'll layout for a pass on every down." Jordan Norwood has also been "dependable," although both have been "tested when they have faced the first-team corners."
Derrick Williams has been focusing on getting off the line and "creating space off the snap." The coaches have him focusing on "get and go" as one observer put it. He went on to explain, "Derrick wants to make the big play — he was consistently putting the 'go' in front of the 'get' — he would anticipate himself out of a play and lose track of the ball. He needs to remember he needs the ball first to make a play — it sounds dumb, but it part of controlling the type of player he is — or wants to be."
In terms of position shifts Brett Brackett is "getting the playbook square and learning the ropes" after moving from quarterback to wideout. He has shown consistent hands and good fundamentals in "looking in and setting the ball." The major area of focus is sticking to his route and anticipating his defender. "He owns that route, he can't let the coverage knock him off — he owns it — it's his and he needs to run them over if he gets in his way."
Not surprisingly, Andrew Quarless, the sophomore tight end, is a favorite target of Morelli. "Tony feels comfortable with him which has boosted the intermediate game." Quarless, checking in at about 255, "is even better off the line" and "is more confident in the flat." He is also improving on setting and holding his blocks, which has been a major focal point for him since last season.
Austin Scott continues to run first team at running back with Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Roster breaking up the second- and third-team reps. At 220, Scott is described as a "load" to bring down. He is not the fastest back, "although he is faster than Tony Hunt." He is "quick in traffic." Scott's issues are "between the tackles at times." He's good at anticipating holes, but "will sometimes try to sidestep a defender and get caught up rather than lean into him for the extra yard." He is "good at making defenders miss in traffic," but "dances too much at times." As one observer summarized, "He hates to go down — he's a fighter."
The first-team offensive line at this stage is:
RT: John Shaw
RG: Rich Ohrnberger
C: A.Q. Shipley
LG: Elijah Robinson
LT: Gerald Cadogan
Observers feel it is a solid unit which "has continued work to do on pulls and rolls in the zone scheme." The biggest issue has been "linemen breaking into open space on a roll and then targeting and engaging a target." Robinson has shown improvement with his technique and Cadogan is "getting comfortable at tackle, but the rush from the ends like Maurice Evans, is hard to handle at times — it's good work for him to see."
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